Last week I talked with Mishimoto about a direct relationship and they pointed me to two of the biggest aftermarket distributors in the USA. After supplying the required paperwork, one brought me on right away, and the other was concerned about the lack of a retail location. For approval, they wanted to see a company roadmap and pictures of inventory. If allowed into the reseller program, BenzForce would be an exception to their policy. The roadmap was pretty easy because it’s something I have been clear about and even communicated in other blogs. The one I provided to them, however, included more detail, specific to their offering and how I can make money for them. For inventory I decided to do a quick “behind the scenes” video to communicate intent and capability; something pictures could not do.
During the process of making the video, I was forced to reflect on the work that has gone into the BenzForce effort.
- Suppliers: I import parts for resale from 4 countries
- Customers: At the time of this writing I have shipped orders to over 16 countries!
- Inventory: Since the wife may be reading this, let’s just say there are many tens of thousands of dollars in inventory
- Parts: I stock most of the parts required to build 617 and 606 engines except for a few items that have very low demand (cylinder sleeves, chain kits, etc). I also have a lot of parts on hand for the om603. I have a huge inventory of Dieselmeken pump parts and genuine Holset turbos.
- BenzForce exclusives: The stock room/office is littered with wooden cases full of turbo adapters, oil fittings, ALDA caps, driveshaft adapters, connecting rods and, of course, t-shirts
Lastly, there is the dyno car. Yes, it is the never-ending project but it is moving forward and it will be an incredible tool for dyno testing purposes, product videos, product testing, and hopefully road trips to certain regions where there are pockets of enthusiasts. I am not sure people understand the financial investment that is going into this car. Some aspects of the build represent an opportunity for me to learn new skills but it is not cheap; it is a commitment that I am happy to make.
Okay, so what? Why bother with the distributors in the first place? The goal is to be able to provide a complete offering. If I can meet or beat other supplier's pricing on relevant parts that are needed on a custom build, it makes sense to do so. Please do not misunderstand, I am not looking to become the Walmart of auto parts. I only want to sell parts that make sense for our cars and feel I can do so at a much lower cost than most resellers. The problem I will be facing is working within the requirements of manufacturer’s minimum advertised pricing policy (aka MAP pricing). Most parts cannot be listed for a lower price than they allow, nor can they be sold for less. I will need to apply discounts on an order level basis vs product level so I will need to figure that out.
The timing of the video and roadmap was interesting. Shortly after completing them, I had a conversation with a customer that has become a pretty good friend. He is a big om617 enthusiast and is always excited to report little tweaks or improvements he identifies. In our conversations, he often uses phrases like “I want to help you get started” which sometimes hits a nerve with me. This time I called him out explaining that the BenzForce catalog started to be built back in the fall of 2017. Just because he didn’t know about BenzForce prior doesn’t mean it wasn’t up and running. The business has come a long way and if the 3 year plan unfolds the way I expect, much bigger things are on the horizon.
As always, thanks for reading,